When Carl Huling, the owner of Fat Harry’s, passed away in February of 2010, the Times-Picayune penned a thoughtful tribute to the beloved owner. Former employees and current patrons added notes of condolence in the comments section. One man noted, “So sad. Fat Harry’s was one of the first to open their doors after Katrina and the Federal Flood. They fed us, got us drunk, listened to our stories and we listened to theirs. Fat Harry’s became an oasis in a sea of confusion.” This sentiment echoes that of Fat Harry’s fans, many of whom think of Fat Harry’s as an extension of their living rooms.
The bar was opened by in 1970 by Allen Ignatius Boudreaux Jr., a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity at Loyola University, and for years the bar catered primarily to that university crowd. But unlike some college bars, whose patrons often leave their college watering holes once they graduate, Fat Harry’s has a strong pull. Patrons returned to enter its arched, church-like wooden doors and drink inside its hallowed walls, no matter their academic status. The bar’s following grew and now Fat Harry’s is an Uptown mainstay. Patrons line up along the copper-topped bar, whose dings and dents attest to extensive use.
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Their ages range from barely-21-year-olds to seersucker-sporting attorneys who crossed fifty many years ago. A decent wine list keeps older ladies clustered at one end of the bar happy. At the other end, several younger women sip Palomas and flirt with a group of guys who finish one pitcher and call for another. Like many bars in the city, Fat Harry’s is a Saints and LSU hub, but it also caters to Clemson and University of Kentucky alumni, and flags for these schools hang in the back room by the pool table. I have a soft spot for a claw machine game, especially the one at Fat Harry’s, with slightly naughty toys mixed among the plush animals. Most locals end up at Fat Harry’s at least once during Carnival. Many Uptown parades start near there, and it’s a handy spot to pop in for a drink. But Fat Harry’s is better enjoyed when you aren’t pushing through throngs of revelers and when you have time to hang with friends in a place that feels like home.